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Pujols continues power surge; Cards top Astros

Jun 8, 2011 - 5:58 AM Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Albert Pujols continued his power surge by blasting a mammoth solo home run and Lance Berkman drilled a two-run shot in the first inning against his former team in St. Louis' 7-4 victory over the Astros.

Jake Westbrook delivered a three-run double and allowed eight hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings. Westbrook (6-3) won his fourth consecutive decision.

Ryan Theriot was hitless in his first four at-bats, but then doubled in a run in the final inning to stretch his career-best hitting streak to 20 games.

Pujols, who belted back-to-back walk-off homers Saturday and Sunday vs. the Cubs, smashed a pitch from Enerio Del Rosario just below the railroad tracks beyond the wall in left in the eighth inning. It was his fifth homer in the last four games.

Daniel Descalso scored twice for the Cardinals, who have won four in a row.

Brett Myers (2-5) gave up six hits and five runs over six innings for Houston, which has lost four straight. Carlos Lee hit a two-run homer in defeat.

Berkman, who went 8-for-14 with a pair of homers and seven RBI in the Cardinals' April 26-28 series at Houston, gave the visitors a quick advantage. Colby Rasmus singled with one out, and after Pujols popped out, Berkman turned on an 0-1 pitch and homered to center field.

"That was huge to get us off the zero there. Everything that happened, we needed every bit of it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "The score is very misleading."

Lee homered in the bottom of the frame, but the Astros wasted a bases-loaded opportunity in the third.

St. Louis expanded its lead the next inning. With the bases full and two outs, Westbrook doubled to center to provide a 5-2 lead.

Theriot botched a potential double-play grounder in the sixth, but the Astros were able to only push one run across in the inning despite loading the bases. Reliever Jason Motte hit pinch-hitter Matt Downs on his right hand, forcing in Jeff Keppinger with one out. Michael Bourn struck out swinging on a foul tip and Clint Barmes grounded into a force play to keep the margin at 5-3.

Another bases-loaded chance, this one with no outs, yielded nothing for Houston in the eighth. After three walks, Bourn fanned, Barmes flied out and Hunter Pence struck out swinging to end the inning.

"If you get those opportunities you have to seize the moment," Bourn said.

Theriot's double to right plated Descalso in the ninth before Chris Johnson had a ground-rule RBI double to close the scoring.

Fernando Salas recorded the final six outs to gain his 11th save.

Game Notes

Pence went 2-for-4 to extend his career-best hitting streak to 18 games...Berkman was back in the lineup after missing Sunday's game due to a sprained right wrist...Cardinals right fielder Allen Craig was assisted off the field in the bottom of the first inning with a right knee contusion. Craig was chasing a foul ball off the bat of Barmes. The ball was slicing toward the stands when a fan reached over the railing in an attempt to catch the ball. Craig pulled up, but it was too late as his knee hit the wall...The last Cardinal to own a longer streak than Theriot's was Pujols, who enjoyed a 30- game string in 2003...The Astros went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on base...La Russa needs three games managed in regular season play to reach the 5,000 career plateau, joining Connie Mack (7,755) as the only managers/coaches in American professional sports history to have reached that milestone...The Astros have lost seven of the last eight games Myers has started.